Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Future of Higher Education

Students are becoming more unplugged to traditional lecture and the university environment, so institutions are identifying more innovated ways to connect students with learning and the university community. Institutions are evolving from internal to external, not delaying or permitting educational and technical trends to dictate change. Institutions are beginning to embrace the power of transformation (i.e. open access, MOOC’s, disruptive technology, social media, flipped classrooms, competency based learning, and etc.). The role of faculty is also changing and being redefined, due to the impact and growth of technology and distant learning platforms. Faculty is needed both online and on campus, so the ability to adapt is vital, and will be an essential component in decision-making as institutions transform.

The emergence of technical trends, educational environments, and teaching strategies, higher education is leveraging these developments to make the most of students’ learning experiences and choices. The future of higher education is leading more to curricula reform offering more multi-disciplinary programs in STEM majors or cross-disciplinary programs, finding balance between non-traditional learning (i.e. MOOC's or distant learning) with traditional learning, investing in technology and apps, recreating space for increased class sizes, and finding unique ways to increase retention and enrollment rates. The future in maintaining the balance of non-traditional and traditional learning is adopting to innovated or contemporary pedagogical approaches while retaining the foundation of traditional methods.

Institutions who adopt and embrace transformation have the opportunity to support learning beyond the classroom and provide a healthy collegiate life experience for students. With the future of higher education evolving rapidly, there is potential to expand or improve learning outcomes and redefining the institution's accountability and responsibility to students and the community. There is no absolute way of knowing the future of higher education or make certain an institutions success in the future, but the objective is to empower students, establish an inclusive environment, and strengthen transfer.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs).. Is there a Place in Higher Education for MOOCs?

With wifi so easily accessible on any campus and with cell phones, computers, digital hand-held devices, iPads, iPods, digital notebooks, and etc. at our finger tips it has become second nature to consistently check social media sites, emails, test messages, course management systems, and etc. in which we have become immersed in the digital realm of operational functions throughout the day. 

Technology has a pivotal role in our day-to-day roles, responsibilities, and personal time, so institutions have presented a renewed focus on delivering reasonable access to education, with education being more virtual, which permits the ability for students to personalize their learning in a digital environment. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) evolved traditional systems of online learning in which permitted anyone with a craving to learn, the opportunity to learn or attend a course for free at a distance. Since the introduction of MOOCs, there has been a number of drawbacks from higher education faculty, which involves the scale, the quality, and the dynamic configuration of the place of learning and the value and necessity of social interaction. 

MOOCs pose a possible threat to learning, because some learners who select to partake in MOOCs, may not possess the necessary prior knowledge required, and information may become distorted, which hinders the learning. The quality of MOOCs and the value of higher education cause for some institutions to reconfigure the MOOCs platform to align with their particular course and curricular decisions, which permits the ability to provide value and quality learning without reducing knowledge using the current MOOCs platform. So, various versions of online institutions have been establish, which is fully automated and accredited but open only to enrolled, tuition-paying students or hybrid courses in which is fully automated online as well as in-class. Institutions can learn a great deal from MOOC's strengths and drawbacks to enhance traditional for-credit online courses and even traditional in-class learning environments. I believe MOOCs have a place in higher education, but to some degree requires some need to maintain the quality of learning through a controlled environment.    

Open Access in Higher Education... The Conversation Continues...

The open access advancement have a number of academic professionals reacting indifferent to the development of the platform, especially since research papers are freely available online rather than published in journals that require a healthy subscription fee for readers. This undertaking entails a variety of woes from new academic professionals, due to the "author's fee", which has direct impact on new academic faculty. The cost incurred is substantial to publish a paper as open access, which isn't recouped from grants in many cases, by the institutions where they work, or the funders of their research. 

This poses a question, "Will most academic research outputs be of interest to the general public readership?" It's something to ask yourself as a new academic professional, because if the demand is there, than "author's cost" might not be an issue. With the advancement of open access, provokes much thought on the impact of traditional journals and the possibility of threat to them or yet, extinction. Another potential challenge with open access is cultural barriers. The positive side of open access is the convenience of open dialogue/contribution in the sharing of global knowledge conversations. Open access would also aid assistance in collaboration, knowledge exchange, and increase attention on certain research areas

The cost aspect for authors is ambiguous and raises the question, if authors pay a fee to have their research published, how does this impact, affect tenure or promotions in higher education? I think open access is a great way to continue the conversations surrounding specific topics, promoting the emergence of academic publishing startups, and building partnerships for researcher-led projects. Open access is an innovated platform for publishing and disseminating to the masses with reduction or little to no subscription fees for readers, but the issue is being able to bridge the cultural gap between academics, quality, prominence and explicit assessment and distribution, which is fundamental to the structuring of the platform. 

In keeping this in mind in which poses a final question, "How to take the elements in bridging the gap between cultural differences and academics widespread, so that it is recognized by senior academics, administrators, upper administration at institutions, community partnerships, and funders buy-in and minimizing push-back?", which in my opinion the biggest bull to tame.